April 19, 2015. The start of Leg 6 in Itaja’; The fleet have passed the start line (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

April 19, 2015. The start of Leg 6 in Itaja’; The fleet have passed the start line (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet bid a lingering farewell after a successful stopover in Itajaí with an almost total lack of wind ensuring a go-slow departure for Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on Sunday

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

ALVI
ALVI 0 0 5018.1 2
MAPF
MAPF 0.1 0 5018.2 2
ADOR
ADOR 0.3 0 5018.4 2
SCA1
SCA1 0.5 0 5018.6 2
TBRU
TBRU 0.6 0 5018.7 2
DFRT
DFRT 0.6 0 5018.7 2
VEST
VEST DID NOT START

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard hereº MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

– Team Alvimedica head the long haul

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard hereº MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

– Team Alvimedica head the long haul to Newport
– Start line setback for race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
– Follow all the Leg 6 action as it happens on our App

ITAJAÍ, Brazil, April 19 – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet bid a lingering farewell after a successful stopover in Itajaí with an almost total lack of wind ensuring a go-slow departure for Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on Sunday.

After watching the six boats drift in frustratingly super-light conditions in the south-east Brazilian port for nearly an hour, the Race Committee cut its losses and ruled that the fleet could sail into the open seas by drastically shortening the opening in-port lap.

Some 270,000 spectators have visited the Itajaí race village since the Leg 5 winners, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), arrived here on April 5.

There were approaching 50,000 more for the departure of Leg 6, a 5,010-nautical mile stage, and the sailors appeared to be in no hurry to leave an electric atmosphere.

Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) are the team with arguably the biggest desire to win the leg into their home port and they duly had the honour of leading the fleet out of Itajaí with barely three to five knots of boat speed.

MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) were their closest pursuers followed by overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) in that order.

Walker and his crew, who head the leaderboard by seven points after Dongfeng failed to complete Leg 5 because of a broken mast, had a miserable start as they found themselves on the wrong side of the starting line and had to turn around in slow motion before setting off.

Once the fleet escapes the immediate shortage of breeze in almost Doldrums conditions, the fleet should find appreciably more wind up the Brazilian coast through the Atlantic.

The leg is unlikely to match the previous stage’s treacherous conditions through the Southern Ocean and south Atlantic, but there are still plenty of challenges to test the fleet to the full.

Light winds, however, could still hamper them along the way.

The boats are expected to take around 17-20 days to reach Newport, the seventh port to host the race.

Bernard Bonneau (FRA) jury Chairman (Photo by Carmen Hidalgo / Volvo Ocean Race)

Bernard Bonneau (FRA) jury Chairman (Photo by Carmen Hidalgo / Volvo Ocean Race)

.– MAPFRE protest hearing – ISAF jury decision here
– Dongfeng Race Team permitted to use replacement sail in Leg 6
– Team SCA and Team Vestas Wind refused permission to change their sails

Leg 5 total
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 1 9
Dongfeng Race Team 8*** 16
Team Brunel 4 18
Team Alvimedica 3 19
MAPFRE 2 20º
Team SCA 5 29
Team Vestas Wind 8* 36

* Did Not Start | ** Did Not Finish | *** Retired | **** Disqualified | ***** Given Redress | ****** Provisional º

 

ITAJAÍ, Brazil, April 17 – The Spanish team MAPFRE were given a two-point penalty on Thursday by the ISAF-appointed independent jury for rules breaches during Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. In separate decisions, the jury made key rulings about the use of replacement sails for three teams.

ISAF Jury (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez  Volvo Ocean Race )

ISAF Jury (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez Volvo Ocean Race )

 

After hearing evidence from Race Management and the team on Wednesday, the jury, headed by Bernard Bonneau, ruled that the Spanish team had applied repairs and alterations on the hull and on an outrigger without informing the Volvo Ocean 65 Class Authority (VCA) and therefore broke the Volvo Ocean 65 class rules as well as the race rules.

The Volvo Ocean 65 class rules require that if a team considers that a repair is necessary, it shall inform the VCA immediately.

Bonneau added that the five-strong jury had decided that the work was not done with the purpose of improving the performance of the Spanish team during Leg 5 and their second place in the stage stands.

The ruling, however, means that their overall points total is now 20 after five legs and they thus drop from fourth to fifth in the standings (see panel above).

The team had earlier argued in the hearing through their rules advisor, Luis Sáenz Mariscal, that in both cases with their bow and outrigger, skipper Iker Martínez had made the reinforcements because of fears that both were damaged.

Sáenz Mariscal added that the outrigger had broken on previous occasions in the race and the crew had heard a bang from the bow and feared it was delaminating.

He said that in Southern Ocean conditions, Martínez feared that the boat and crew were in danger if the measures were not taken. He said the crew had not informed the VCA, but had openly shared video content showing repairs to Race Control in Alicante, Spain.

Martínez was also a skipper in the last edition in 2011-12, when his boat’s bow delaminated and he was forced to nurse the boat to Argentina for repairs.

In a separate decision by the ISAF Jury, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) was given permission to replace their damaged race mainsail with their pre-race mainsail for the forthcoming Team Vestas Wnd Itajaí In-Port Race as well as Leg 6, which starts on Sunday (April 19).

Dongfeng Race Team had nursed their boat to safety in Argentina after the top of the mast fractured, 200 nautical miles from Cape Horn, during Leg 5. Caudrelier explained they had no option but to cut the mainsail to prevent further damage, potentially endangering the crew.

However, similar applications from Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), to replace their fractional code zero sail, and Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) to replace their J3 when they return to the race following their grounding on a reef in Leg 2, were denied.

Team SCA’s sail was unusable during the stage after it was badly damaged during a Chinese gybe. It has since been repaired but according to skipper Sam Davies, may tear again once the boat returns to sea on Leg 6 from Sunday.

The race rules specify that if a boat damages beyond repair or loses a sail and does not have a spare race sail of the same code, it may apply in writing to the VCA and to the international jury for permission to use her pre-race sail of the same code.

The international jury’s full decisions can be found here: http://noticeboard.volvooceanrace.com

 

March 22, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard MAPFRE. Day 04. Skipper Iker Martinez glues on of the battens to stick to the hull (Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race)

March 22, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard MAPFRE. Day 04. Skipper Iker Martinez glues on of the battens to stick to the hull (Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race)

April 05, 2015. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, winner of Leg 5 arriving to Itajaí. (Photo by Buda Mendes / Volvo Ocean Race )

April 05, 2015. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, winner of Leg 5 arriving to Itajaí. (Photo by Buda Mendes / Volvo Ocean Race )

A monster of a leg’ ends in glory

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) buried the miserable memories of three years ago to win an epic Southern Ocean/south Atlantic crossing in Leg 5 and claim their second stage victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

April 05, 2015. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing approaching Itaja’ (BRA)

 

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard here
– Walker celebrates epic Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing win
– Emirati boat moves seven points clear at top
– MAPFRE, Team Alvimedica and Team Brunel chase them home
– Team SCA rocked by another setback as rudder breaks

ITAJAÍ, Brazil, April 5 – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) buried the miserable memories of three years ago to win an epic Southern Ocean/south Atlantic crossing in Leg 5 and claim their second stage victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.

In 2012, Walker’s crew were forced to return to Auckland with hull damage and eventually retired from the leg to Itajaí, Brazil.

They must have feared more of the same when Cyclone Pam delayed the departure from New Zealand for three days, but despite taking the worst that the Southern Ocean and then the south Atlantic could throw at them, the Emirati team emerged triumphant after nearly 19 days of ultra-challenging, super-tight sailing.

Amazingly, skipper Ian Walker reported that they had reached Itajaí with the least amount of work for their shore crew to do of any leg so far in this edition.

To add the icing to their cake, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing set the new best mark in the chase for IWC prize for the most nautical miles (nm) sailed in 24 hours with 551nm leading up to Cape Horn.

“Awesome. It’s been such a monster of a leg, we were so, so stoked with the 24-hour record,” said a jubilant Walker, 45, straight after crossing the line in front of a waterfront packed by thousands of spectators.

“That (IWC record) was actually what got us back up with the leaders. Since then we have sailed very, very well. It’s a very tight finish.”

He credited his team’s versatility for much of their success (elapsed time for Leg 5: 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds).

“Seven out of eight of our guys drive, so nobody has to drive for too long. We rotate everybody and I can’t speak highly enough of everybody in our team.”

He added that he dropped the keel on two occasions in the heaviest of the weather with 50-knot winds (92.6 kilometres an hour) buffeting the fleet, losing some ground, but keeping his boat intact.

“In hindsight, that looks a pretty shrewd decision,” Walker said.

The stage victory leaves Walker’s team seven points clear at the top of the standings with five of the nine legs now completed.

That gap was opened up following the misfortune of a broken mast, which struck Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) early last Monday and led to their retirement from the leg two days later.

The Chinese boat is now being sailed, partly under motor, to Itajaí where its shore crew face a race against time to have the new mast refitted in time for the start of the next leg to Newport, Rhode Island, on April 19.

They will pick up eight points (low points wins) after failing to finish the stage and now stand on 16, still in second place, but only two ahead of MAPFRE and Team Brunel. Team Alvimedica are one further behind with Team SCA expected to finish on 29.

Walker, in his third race, is far too experienced to take anything for granted yet, however, despite becoming the first team to clinch their second stage win of the 2014-15 edition.

The leg was incredibly closely fought throughout its 6,776nm with MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) chasing Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing all the way to Itajaí and finishing in that order.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing beat the Spanish team by a little over 32 minutes with less than an hour separating the leading four (see panel above).

As usual, Walker barely enjoyed a wink of sleep over the final 48 hours with his pursuers no more than 2-10nm behind him all that time.

Apart from the closeness of the racing – virtually unprecedented in the 41-year history of the race – the leg will be remembered for living up to its reputation as the most fearsome in the nine-month offshore marathon.

Along from Dongfeng’s broken mast, there were at least three cases of Chinese gybes when the boats crashed to their sides before righting, and there were numerous cases of other sail and equipment breakages.

Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) had more than their share of problems, damaging three sails and then suffering a port rudder breakage on Sunday. They are expected to finish the leg on Tuesday.

In all, the fleet will cover 38,739nm and visit 11 ports and every continent. The race concludes in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27.

Leg 5 finishing times

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds
2. MAFPRE – 19d 00h 02min 56s
3. Team Alvimedica – 19d 00h 24min 32s
4. Team Brunel – 19d 00h 25min 48s

 

 

 

 

 

March 14, 2015. New Zealand Herald In-Port Race: Winner Team SCA, second position for Team Brunel and third for MAPFRE (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

March 14, 2015. New Zealand Herald In-Port Race: Winner Team SCA, second position for Team Brunel and third for MAPFRE (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 Team SCA became the only crew in the Volvo Ocean Race to claim two in-port victories on Saturday after a thrilling start-to-finish win in Auckland (full story below).

In-Port AUCKLAND total
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 6 14
Team Brunel 2 14
Team SCA 1 16
Dongfeng Race Team 4 18
Team Alvimedica 5 20
MAPFRE 3 25
Team Vestas Wind 8* 36

* Did Not Start | ** Did Not Finish | *** Retired | **** Disqualified | ***** Given Redress | ****** Provisional

– All women’s crew dominate in ‘City of Sails’
– Runners-up Team Brunel move joint top in standings

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, March 14 – Team SCA became the only crew in the Volvo Ocean Race to claim two in-port victories on Saturday after a thrilling start-to-finish win in Auckland – “by keeping it simple”.

It was a fight all the way, however, in surely the most exciting in-port race in the 2014-15 edition with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) narrowly beaten to the line by Sam Davies’ (GBR) all-women crew.

Afterwards, the women’s boat’s navigator Libby Greenhalgh (GBR) summed up their success in the New Zealand Herald In-Port Race: “We won it because we kept it simple, kept our manoeuvres to a minimum and that’s what paid out for us.”

Team Brunel skipper Bekking, however, had the consolation of moving joint top of the In-Port Race standings on 14 points with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) who lost out in their own enthralling tussle with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) for fifth place.

The Turkish/American boat ran down ‘Azzam’ with barely metres to spare at the finish line, cheered on by fans in an absolutely packed Auckland harbour.

The Emirati boat retains the edge, however, thanks to the best individual results overall in the series (see panel above).

Just as in their previous in-port success in Abu Dhabi in early January, Davies and her crew have shown in the short races they are more than a match for their male rivals and this success will be another confidence-booster ahead of the weather-delayed Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí.

“We’re really happy, the City of Sails made a fantastic arena for us to race in today,” said a jubilant Davies.

“It was really, really hard. We learned that in the practice races beforehand, we made all the mistakes then and today was just brilliant.

“We had a really good teamwork, a great start, good tactics, everything worked perfectly onboard Team SCA today.

“I’m really happy because it’s going to boost our team’s morale for the next two days while we wait for (Cyclone) Pam to leave us some space to go out in the Southern Ocean.”

Greenhalgh added: “We’re stoked. It wasn’t really secure until the last little bit when we’d gone around the bottom mark.”

MAPFRE, who had led the chase to catch Team SCA after another runaway start, enjoyed the consolation of a third place podium finish on the return of skipper Iker Martínez (ESP) after he missed the last two legs to concentrate on Olympic training for Rio 2016.

The race, mercifully raced in variable but perfect conditions before Cyclone Pam hits the region, leaves the in-port race series perfectly poised with Team SCA just two points behind the leading pair.

They in turn head Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) by two points following a fourth place finish in Auckland for the Chinese boat.

The leg departure for the treacherous Southern Ocean/Cape Horn leg to Brazil has been delayed until midday local time on Tuesday at the earliest because of the Category 5 Cyclone Pam, which has been blowing winds of around 250 kilometres an hour.

Race management will make a decision in the next 24 hours to confirm that the fleet is safe to sail at that time having postponed the departure from Sunday at 1400 local time (0100 GMT).

 

The Volvo Ocean Race launches a new young sailor award in a major sailing competition in the Gulf. It's aimed at attracting a fresh generation of offshore sailors, following champions like Damien Foxall (Photo © Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Volvo Ocean Race launches a new young sailor award in a major sailing competition in the Gulf. It’s aimed at attracting a fresh generation of offshore sailors, following champions like Damien Foxall (Photo © Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Volvo Ocean Race launches a new young sailor award in a major sailing competition in the Gulf. It’s aimed at attracting a fresh generation of offshore sailors, following champions like Damien Foxall

– Omani and British under-30s win first rookies prizes

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, March 3 – The Volvo Ocean Race has launched a new award for young sailors in a major competition in the Gulf, aimed at attracting a fresh generation of sailors into offshore sailing to follow champions like Damien Foxall (pictured).

The Race has introduced the Volvo Ocean Race Rookie Award for the two best under-30 sailors competing in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT), which was concluded over the weekend.

The event, contested over a 760-nautical mile (nm) course in the Gulf of Arabia, was first held in 2011 by Oman Sail. Since then, many top-level competitors in the event have been drawn from the ranks of past and present Volvo Ocean Race sailors, including the 2015 winners, Damian Foxall (IRL) and Sidney Gavignet (FRA).

It was the second year running Gavignet’s crew won.

The first victors of the Volvo Ocean Race Rookie Award were Team Renaissance Omani sailor, Ali Al Balushi, and the British sailor from the University of Plymouth team, Richard Mason.

Their prize is a trip to Newport, Rhode Island, to see the Volvo Ocean Race fleet after it completes the sixth leg of the current 12th edition from Itajaí, Brazil.

A panel of judges comprising George Catsiapis, CEO EFG Private Bank, Knut Frostad CEO, Volvo Ocean Race, and Gilles Chiorri, EFG SATT Race Director, picked out Al Balushi and Mason as the winners after they were nominated by their skippers in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT).

“We are thrilled that SATT has attracted recognition from the Volvo Ocean Race as being a valuable feeder race for young offshore sailors and we look forward to working closely together to promote the sport of sailing among young local and regional audiences,” said David Graham, CEO of organisers, Oman Sail.

Frostad added: “We are delighted to launch this award since the Volvo Ocean Race works hard to promote the development of young offshore sailors and also fully supports the initiatives and programmes that are being launched by emerging nations in the sport of sailing.”

Overall winners of the SATT were EFG Bank, Monaco, led by Gavignet, who has competed in four Volvo Ocean Races.

A course change, from east to west, resulted in 14 days of testing upwind racing on the six-leg course from Oman to Bahrain.

The fleet included 11 pro-am race teams with crews from 21 different countries, including GAC powered by Dongfeng, with three ‘resting’ sailors from Dongfeng Race Team taking part: Cheng Ying Kit (English name ‘Kit’), Liu Ming (‘Leo’) and Kong Chencheng (‘Kong’). They finished eighth.

 

January 31, 2015. Sanya Stopover; City Views  s (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

January 31, 2015. Sanya Stopover; City Views s (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Tension is rising

Leg 3 total
Dongfeng Race Team 1 5
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 2 6
Team Brunel 5 9
Team Alvimedica 3 12
MAPFRE 4 15
Team SCA 6 18
Team Vestas Wind 8* 20

* Did Not Start | ** Did Not Finish | *** Retired | **** Disqualified | ***** Given Redress | ****** Provisional

– Big calls to make in Leg 4 challenge
– Winds of up to 30 knots forecast for Sanya departure

SANYA, China, February 5 – Volvo Ocean Race’s six-strong fleet heads out towards Auckland from Sanya for Leg 4 on Sunday with some big calls to make in the latest installment of a marathon offshore contest which could hardly be more finely poised.

Charles Caudrelier’s (FRA) Dongfeng Race Team have their noses in front by a single point after the stage from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, but know that they could so easily follow the example of Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), who could only muster fifth place on the leg to China after winning the previous one.

The Chinese team, which became the first from the world’s most populous nation to win a leg in the 41-year-old race last month, have yet to announce

their crew plans for the 5,264-nautical mile trip to Auckland, New Zealand.

February 5, 2015 in Sanya, China. The six-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet resumes racing with a ractice Race outside the Serenity Marina.  (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

February 5, 2015 in Sanya, China. The six-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet resumes racing with a ractice Race outside the Serenity Marina. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

These will be unveiled on Friday (February 6) and it will be fascinating to see how many changes they make to a crew which is performing so surprisingly well.

This stage promises to be as absorbing as anything that has proceeded it since the fleet left Alicante on October 11 on the first stage of the nine-leg, nine-month marathon around the world, culminating in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27.

Rob Greenhalgh, the ultra-experienced watch captain of MAPFRE (GBR), sums up the challenges: “Historically, Leg 4 is a bit of a tricky one. A lot of upwind, a lot of reaching, quite a long leg as well.

“I imagine it will be quite close, certainly up until the Philippines. There’s a few options on routes to take beyond that. Tight reaching angles may see the boats separate a little bit.”

Most of the sailors agree that the Philippines will be a key staging post on a route that takes the boats through the South China Sea and into the Pacific, skirting past eastern Australia.

“Going in the right direction, beyond the Philippines, is key,” said Greenhalgh. “As you start cracking off and reaching, the boats which do the reaching angles fast will make a bit of a jump.”

Bekking, so determined to bury memories of his crew’s ‘bloody hopeless’ fifth place in the last leg and put Team Brunel back on track, agrees.

“The key point will be at the top of the Philippines. You have to make a decision – how far north you go or how far east,” he said.

“Maybe it doesn’t show straight away, it will only show up after one and a half or two weeks of sailing, but it will be quite critical over there.”

The 51-year-old Dutchman is looking forward to almost perfect sailing conditions from the outset on Sunday as the fleet sails off from Sanya.

“It looks like a very good breeze leaving Sanya – maybe up to 25 to 30 knots – so that’s a bit different than three years ago when the guys were drifting around for a couple days,” he said.

“That’s actually a bit uncomfortable, but at least we’ll make good mileage towards New Zealand so that’s a really good thing.”

Chris Nicholson (AUS) and several members of the Team Vestas Wind crew, whose boat was badly damaged on a reef in the Indian Ocean on November 29 during Leg 2, will watch the departure in Sanya.

The skipper from Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, reported on Thursday that Vestas Wind had arrived at the Persico yard in Bergamo, Italy, and the first stages of the rebuild were now underway with a hoped-for return to the race in June.

Meantime, the latest round of the In-Port Race Series – this one named the Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race – will be held on Saturday with Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) aiming to continue their good form following victory in Abu Dhabi.

 

February 2, 2015. Sanya Stopover; After 6 days of checks and repairs, Team Alvimedicas VO65 is put back into the water. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez Volvo Ocean Race)

February 2, 2015. Sanya Stopover; After 6 days of checks and repairs, Team Alvimedicas VO65 is put back into the water. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez Volvo Ocean Race)

In-Port Race Alicante - Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015

SANYA, China, January 27 – Dongfeng Race Team claimed a key landmark in the 41-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race on Tuesday when they emphatically won Leg 3 in their home port of Sanya to take the overall lead with six stages to go.

No Chinese team has won a leg in the race before despite two previous entries – Green Dragon in 2008-09 and Team Sanya in 2011-12 – but Charles Caudrelier’s (FRA) crew put that right in style.

Leg 3
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

DFRT
DFRT FIN – 023d 13h 31m 38s
ADOR
ADOR 0 46 37.2 12
ALVI
ALVI 12.1 48 49.6 13
MAPF
MAPF 19.9 47 57.4 13
TBRU
TBRU 21.2 47 58.6 13
SCA1
SCA1 106.4 46 143.9 12
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

.

Dongfeng Race Team escorted into Sanya after winning leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race)

Dongfeng Race Team escorted into Sanya after winning leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. (Photo by Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

“It’s the most stressful leg I’ve ever done in my life,” said a mightily relieved Caudrelier, minutes after crossing the line. “But the result is fantastic!”

After finishing narrow runners-up to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) respectively in Legs 1 and 2, Dongfeng took a firm grip of the 4,670-nautical mile stage from Abu Dhabi to China virtually from the start on January 3.

Charles Caudrelier,  Skipper of Dongfeng Race Team making sail adjustments prior to winning leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 in Sanya, China (Photo by  Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

Charles Caudrelier, Skipper of Dongfeng Race Team making sail adjustments prior to winning leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 in Sanya, China (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

At one stage, entering the treacherous Malacca Strait, they stretched their advantage over the fleet to more than 106nm but the fleet never gave up their chase and as they skirted along the wind-shielded Vietnamese coast, Caudrelier found his team’s lead cut to under 10nm.

But the 40-year-old and his crew of experienced French sailors mixed with rookie Chinese Cheng Ying Kit (‘Kit’) and Liu Xue (‘Black’) plus young Australian Jack Bouttell, stuck grimly to their game plan and slowly but surely stretched their lead once more as they entered the final day’s sailing.

An infuriating – for Caudrelier and his crew – lack of wind in the South China Sea kept the tension up into the small hours of Tuesday morning and once more the fleet led by Walker’s Azzam closed the gap a little but Dongfeng had come too far for too long to relinquish their advantage now.

At just past 0731 local time (2331 UTC), they crossed the finish on a glorious Sanya morning just after daybreak, some 45nm clear of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) 13.5nm further behind.

They are expected to scrap all the way to the finish with MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) hot on their heels.

Those boats are expected to finish within short order of each other later on Tuesday with Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) due to complete the leg later into the evening.

January 27, 2015. Dongfeng Race Team arrives in Sanya in first position, leader of Leg 3 after 23 days of sailing.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race)

January 27, 2015. Dongfeng Race Team arrives in Sanya in first position, leader of Leg 3 after 23 days of sailing. (Photo by Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race)

Volvo Ocean Race Fleet round mark before heading out of Cape Town starting Leg 2  (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Volvo Ocean Race Fleet round mark before heading out of Cape Town starting Leg 2 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

– Gusts of up to 35 knots send fleet off to flyer

– Follow the race all the way on our app

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 19 – Skippers of the seven boats in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, which set out for the 6,125 nautical mile (nm) Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, left with warnings of possible cyclone activity and tropical storms ringing in their ears.

Race organisers took late measures to keep the 66 sailors away from the very worst of the weather on the Indian Ocean with a new exclusion zone leading to the Seychelles.

There were already zones in place to avoid icebergs in the Southern Ocean and the more unlikely menace of pirate attack further down the route on the east coast of the Indian Ocean.

The latter zone was being kept secret from the public to avoid the possibility of the fleet being intercepted.

From the very start on Wednesday (1800 local/1600 UTC), the sailors were given a taste of things to come with gusts of up to 35 knots kicking up a procession of white-capped waves.

It was a question of ‘don’t break your boat’ as most opted for conservative sail choices, while they wrestled to keep them under control and intact.

For the second leg start in a row, Team Brunel led the fleet out of port after wrestling the lead, first from MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), and then Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) who were well in the hunt.

Brunel and Mapfre leave Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

Brunel and Mapfre leave Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

The fleet will continue to sail in these gale-force conditions, which Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright (USA) described before the start as ‘heinous’.

“I think we’re all going to have to be pretty conservative,” he told the skippers’ press conference, just over 24 hours earlier. “This could be the worst sea state these boats have ever seen.”

Favourites for the leg are Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), who have barely made a false move since setting out from Alicante on October 11.

They followed their 12-minute win over Dongfeng Race Team in Leg 1 on November 5, by securing victory on Saturday in the Cape Town in-port race.

When asked if there were such a thing as ‘home advantage’ in sailing, Walker, 44, was determined to keep his crew’s feet on the ground – as well as his own.

“First we have to get there,” he smiled. “I’ll be happy just to get within range and then arrive in Abu Dhabi. There’s a fantastic welcome for everybody in store once we get there, that’s for sure.”

Team Vestas Wind surprised onlookers when a choir on board their support boat burst into song just prior to the start. Their message was loud and clear: ‘There’s an even more important race we must win – to save the environment’.

Leg 2 is expected to take between 22 to 28 days to complete, depending on conditions. The boats will remain in Abu Dhabi over Christmas and the New Year before setting sail again on January 3 for Sanya, China.

 

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leaving Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leaving Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)